Jesilyn Dendere/ Bernard Mpofu
THE Reserve Bank’s project to introduce higher denominated bearer cheques yesterday got off to a disastrous start after the ban
k failed to deliver cash to financial institutions.
Thousands of people were unable to get cash amid revelations that the central bank only started distributing the new bearer cheques to banks well after normal banking hours.
By last night officials from banks were still at the central bank’s cash office trying to get their allocations.
“We only started getting cash at about 4pm,” said a managing director with a local commercial bank.
The central bank introduced $250 000, $500 000 and $750 000 bearer cheques and demonetised the $200 000 note claiming it was being hoarded by cash barons. Some banks were yesterday still issuing the $200 000 bearer cheques which go out of circulation at the beginning of next year. Long queues were still evident yesterday with most banks turning away clients who wanted to withdraw cash.
At ZB Bank along Rotten Row, people were being admitted into the hall in small numbers to avoid commotion to withdraw old notes.
A source at the RBZ said the new bearer notes were being dispatched to the rural areas first before being distributed to urban branches.
The crisis continued yesterday as pressure mounted on central bank governor Gideon Gono to name the barons who he has accused of hoarding cash.
Gono on Wednesday said the bank was aware of people holding on to cash for speculation.
He offered to name and shame the barons, whom he said included high-ranking officials, to parliament.
Gono said he felt let down by senior politicians who were hoarding large sums of cash.
Stakeholders have called on the Finance and Budget Parliamentary Portfolio Committee to immediately convene and invite the governor to name names. Last night Gono told the Independent that the central bank had already started pursuing the barons.
“It’s part of the strategy to deal with the barons and so far it’s working,” Gono said.
He said the bank had sent a team to Masvingo to investigate some barons who had moved $2 trillion from Marondera on Wednesday night. On the cash crisis, Gono said the situation would improve by today because there were “some issues that had to be sorted out”.
“It will not take a day. Our people have to be patient,” he said.
The Arthur Mutambara-led MDC faction yesterday called on the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Budget David Butau to immediately convene the committee and summon Gono to name the cash barons.
“The MDC parliamentary caucus strongly believes that this is a serious matter which needs urgent attention given the magnitude of the national cash crisis and therefore calls on the Parliamentary Committee to expeditiously deal with this matter in the interest of the nation,” MDC parliamentary spokesperson Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.